'Gang feud' terrifies neighbours in Chatsworth Way, New Milton
A SUSPECTED gang feud between rival groups in New Milton exploded into criminal damage in the early hours of Wednesday morning leaving residents terrified.
Neighbours living in Chatsworth Way said the latest incident, in which windows of cars and properties were smashed and airgun pellets thought to have been fired, was just one in a series they have suffered over the last year.
Police are investigating and have also promised an increased presence in Ringwood, Bramshaw, Bransgore and Fritham where there have been similar recent reports of criminality. Officers said they were keeping an “open mind” as to whether they are connected.
At about 2.30am on Wednesday in New Milton, frightened residents were woken by someone standing in the street shouting: “Come out here,” followed by a string of expletives.
One witness said: “We heard this screaming and shouting, then there were a load of bangs and crashes. We could hear glass smashing and it seemed to go on for a long time.
“It was very frightening. We were too worried to go outside while it was going on.
“I tried to see what was happening out the window while my wife phoned the police.”
He said two police cars arrived at 3am which is when the full extent of the damage to homes and vehicles was discovered.
The man said: “A pane of glass in our front door was smashed by a pellet from an airgun, or something similar.
“An elderly neighbour of ours had four windows in her house smashed and another one had both her cars targeted with all the windows shattered.
“It was quite unbelievable, so shocking. None of us could quite believe it.
“We spent all night helping each other clearing up the mess and taping up windows.
“We were told by the police that there had been incidents in the area of gangs having a bit of a battle in New Milton.”
According to the resident, Chatsworth Way has been targeted previously by feuding groups.
He said: “There has been previous damage, and last summer we started keeping a log of suspicious behaviour occurring in the street which we gave to the police.”
He said when officers arrived on Wednesday, they searched the area to see if the culprits were still there, but found nothing.
One elderly person living in the street told the A&T she heard banging and thought her house was “caving in”.
She said: “I thought, what the hell is that? Four of my windows have been smashed.
“Police said it was done by a sling shot with a metal ball.
“This is the first time something like this has happened to me here, and I’ve been living here for 20 years or more.”
A spokesperson for Hampshire police said it was investigating criminal damage in Chatsworth Way to houses and two vehicles: a white Peugeot and blue Ford.
Officers are also investigating similar damage in Ringwood, Bramshaw, Bransgore and Fritham, although they said the incidents are currently not being linked.
New Forest Inspector Brian Goodall said on Wednesday: “We appreciate that the events of last night may cause concern and have an impact on the local community – but rest assured that our local neighbourhood policing team are following up on relevant lines of enquiry.
“As a result, you may see an increased policing presence in and around Bransgore, Burley and Ringwood over the coming days.
“We will be conducting high-visibility patrols in the area throughout the day and overnight in these areas in order to identify those who were responsible for these incidents.
“If you have any information on any of the above incidents, please do stop and speak to any of our officers that you may see in the local area.”